MOUNT PLEASANT — As part of his usual ritual after waking up, the 31-year-old man sat on the porch of his Huro Drive mobile home and smoked a cigarette Wednesday morning.
But two or three gunshots, he said, jolted him from his favorite spot. He peered through the bushes and saw three men running from a green Buick Century parked at the end of Dingle Road, which parallels his street in the community southeast of highways 17 and 41.
He couldn’t see the men’s faces, just what they were wearing.
He was more concerned about whether anyone was hurt. He couldn’t tell.
“I saw the car pull up and thought it was normal because cars come back here and park all the time,” he said. “When I heard the gunshots, I jumped off the porch and saw them running.”
The witness soon learned that Solomon Ancrum, 21, of North Charleston had been fatally shot inside the driver’s seat of the 2001 Buick. Authorities scoured nearby woods and searched abandoned homes for suspects, but they didn’t find any.
The resident declined to be identified because the perpetrators were still on the loose and he feared retribution. He called 911 after the shooting and later relayed his story to three detectives as he surveyed the crime scene.
Town police officers were the first to arrive at the scene just before 11 a.m., but the Charleston County Sheriff’s Office took control of the investigation in the unincorporated area. Their cars packed the street in front of a line of townhouses on Dingle Road.
Sheriff Al Cannon said Ancrum already was dead when officers from the Mount Pleasant Police Department arrived. Cannon did not say whether any evidence at the scene indicated the circumstances of his death.
The Charleston County Coroner’s Office identified the victim.
Two of the three black men who fled were about 5-foot-9 and 150 pounds. One wore a red shirt and black shorts, and the other had a green shirt and black shorts.
The third man was larger than the others, according to Cannon’s description, and was clad in a white tank top and tan shorts.
Residents reported seeing them fleeing north toward U.S. Highway 17.
The eastern end of Dingle Road, where the shots were fired, consists of a paved circle, where motorists who hit the dead end can turn around. The grass is well-trimmed, but no homes are located on the street there.
“It does provide a measure of privacy,” Cannon said. “That could be a factor in what occurred. But there’s nothing to suggest that it’s any more than coincidental.”
Nothing indicated that a pursuit between two vehicles had occurred or that another car had been involved, the sheriff said.
On Huro Drive, the resident who heard the gunfire said the men “skipped at first, then took off running at full speed.” He didn’t see whether any of them had a gun or whether one of them might have been hurt.
The resident has lived in the community since 1991, he said, and now shares the home with his mother.
He said his father often called authorities about cars that parked on the Dingle Road turnaround, which had been cleared of trees in favor of short-cut grass. His father would report the cars as suspicious, he said. Many of them turned up stolen.
“They just come back here and hang out,” he said. “I walk my street three or four times a day. Each time, it’s a different car here.”
A watery ditch separated the man’s property from the shooting site.
On the other side, forensics experts marked items on the grass near the Buick as other investigators photographed the sedan’s interior. Three of the doors were open as investigators waved metal detectors over the ground.
Along the nearby dirt-surfaced Huro Drive and the paved Sam Edwards Road, officers and deputies with dogs and rifles looked for signs of the culprits.
A day care and a Walgreens pharmacy were closed during the search as a helicopter’s rotors whirred overhead. Men wearing ties sunned themselves in lawn chairs outside the Jehovah’s Witness hall on Dingle Road.
Along U.S. 17, a woman tried to sell sweetgrass baskets, but she couldn’t take her eyes off the stream of police and sheriff’s cars visiting the crime scene.
Contact Andrew Knapp at 937-5414 or twitter.com/offlede.